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There’s still a chance the Blue Jays could re-sign Melky Cabrera, Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star writes. GM Alex Anthopoulos is prepared to wait until Cabrera has a sense of what’s available to him in free agency, and if Cabrera doesn’t find an offer to his liking, he could return to the Jays, possibly on a four- or five-year contract. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- Russell Martin signed with the Jays, but the Cubs were key bidders, the catcher’s agent tells Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago. “There were times throughout the process where it was Toronto and the Cubs, 1 and 2,” says Matt Colleran. “One day the Cubs [were] going a little ahead, and the next Toronto was ahead. When we got into the [last] weekend the dollars started to come into play, and Toronto was just super aggressive with their approach.” The day before Martin and the Blue Jays agreed to terms, the Cubs reportedly were the front-runners to sign him.
- The Diamondbacks recently began interviews for their open scouting director position, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports. The position opened when the Brewers hired Ray Montgomery away from Arizona. The Diamondbacks’ candidates include Tim Huff (from the Angels), Sam Hughes (Cubs), Sean Johnson (Twins), Deric Ladnier (Nationals), Mark Snipp (Reds) and Tim Wilken (Cubs). The team has also interviewed two internal candidates, Todd Donovan and Bill Gayton. Ladnier, Wilken and Gayton all have experience as scouting directors, and Diamondbacks senior vice president of baseball operations De Jon Watson has suggested the team might prefer a scouting director with experience.
After acquiring lefty first baseman Ike Davis from the Pirates, the Athletics are fielding calls on lefties Brandon Moss, Josh Reddick and John Jaso, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The Blue Jays have reportedly asked the A’s about the now-healthy Jaso, with the Athletics showing interest in lefty starter Sean Nolin. (The Jays already have Dioner Navarro and Josh Thole to back up Russell Martin at catcher, although Navarro hopes to be traded.) The Athletics also have keen interest in finding a shortstop, given the likely departure of Jed Lowrie to free agency.
Seen in this context, the Athletics’ acquisition of Davis, who cost them only the rights to $270K in international spending, might mostly be an insurance policy in case they trade someone else. If the Athletics don’t deal another player, Slusser writes, they could non-tender Davis. Reddick (who boasts an above-average bat and a good corner outfield glove) and Moss (who’s a liability defensively but who has had three straight seasons of over 20 home runs) would appear to have significant trade value.
Here’s the latest on free agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval, with the day’s latest stories at the top.
- Teams have been asked to submit their final offers for Sandoval, tweets Alex Speier of WEEI.com. That appears to mean that the bidding is down to three teams – the Padres, Red Sox, and Giants – Speier notes in a separate tweet.
- The trio of clubs have all submitted offers, and Sandoval will make his choice next week, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets.
- The Padres have made the most expensive offer to Sandoval so far, but Sandoval is still more likely to pick the Red Sox, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. Previous reporting indicated the Red Sox had offered Sandoval five years and $95MM, so the Padres’ offer appears to be worth more than that. The Giants will turn their attention to Yasmany Tomas if Sandoval departs.
- Preller and the Padres made a “very serious” offer to Sandoval, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes.
- The Blue Jays have not had contact with Sandoval’s camp in the last two days, suggesting that they are not a key bidder for Sandoval at this time, Ben Nicholson-Smith of SportsNet.ca writes.
- The Giants have received no indication that they trail the Red Sox in the race to land Sandoval, Rosenthal tweets.
- Echoing Rosenthal, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets that the Giants still believe they’re in contention to re-sign Sandoval. Cafardo wrote yesterday that the Red Sox had extended Sandoval a five-year, $95MM offer.
- Padres GM A.J. Preller, meanwhile, was in Miami on Friday to meet with Sandoval’s agent, Gustavo Vasquez, MLB.com’s Corey Brock writes. He is expected to fly to the Dominican Republic today to meet with Tomas’ representation. Rosenthal reported yesterday that the Padres would make a formal offer to Sandoval on Friday. The Padres have joined the Giants and Red Sox as the key contenders to sign Sandoval, and the Braves as one of the key teams in the bidding for Tomas.
Here are today’s minor moves from around the league…
- A number of additional minor league signings have been reported on the MLB.com transactions page. Among the more notable moves: The Reds added first baseman Josh Satin along with second baseman Ivan De Jesus. Righty Logan Kensing and shortstop Juan Diaz have agreed to terms with the White Sox. And five catchers are off the board: Griff Erickson (Padres), Koyie Hill (Phillies), Sebastian Valle and Miguel Perez (Pirates), and Guillermo Quiroz (Giants).
- Other signings, via MLB.com: righty Caleb Clay and outfielder Nick Buss (Diamondbacks); lefties Ryan Verdugo and Jim Fuller (Athletics); third baseman Jefry Marte (Tigers); righty Daniel Turpen, third baseman Heiker Meneses, and shortstop Argenis Diaz (Twins); righty Bryce Stowell and first baseman Allan Dykstra (Rays); first baseman Travis Mattair and righties Justin Jackson, Jairo Heredia, and Jake Brigham (Braves); outfielder Javier Herrera (Giants); righty Leuris Gomez (Rockies); righty Michael Lee (Blue Jays); third baseman Jonathan Galvez (Yankees); righty Paul Clemens (Phillies).
- The D’Backs have agreed to terms on a minor league deal and a Spring Training invite with infielder/outfielder Jamie Romak, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes tweeted today. The 29-year-old Romak, a client of Taurus Sports’ David Sloane, made his big league debut with the Dodgers in 2014 and collected his first hit in the Majors. The former fourth-rounder is a lifetime .258/.324/.474 hitter at Triple-A.
- The Orioles announced the signings of infielder Paul Janish, right-hander Terry Doyle and outfielder Quincy Latimore to minor league contracts and invitations to big league Spring Training. SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo was the first to tweet Janish’s agreement, and Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com had previously reported that the team was working on a deal with him. Janish is the only one of the bunch that comes with MLB experience; the 32-year-old defensive specialist is a career .214/.284/.288 hitter in 1206 plate appearances between the Reds and Braves.
- The Nationals announced that they have signed right-hander Bruce Billings to a minor league contract with an invite to Major League Spring Training. The 29-year-old Billings pitched four innings for the Yankees last season and split the season between the Yankees and Dodgers organizations. Overall, the veteran posted a 5.27 ERA with 6. K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 95 2/3 innings.
- Outfielder Xavier Avery has inked a minor league deal with the Tigers and will receive a Spring Training invite as well, tweets SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo. The 24-year-old Avery spent last season with the Mariners after being acquired from the Orioles in the 2013 Mike Morse trade. Avery hit .275/.344/.413 with 10 homers and 31 steals, appearing at all three outfield spots for Seattle’s Triple-A affiliate in 2014.
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Midnight EST is the deadline for teams to add players to their 40-man roster in order to protect them from being selected in next month’s Rule 5 Draft. Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com lists the notable prospects who are newly Rule 5 eligible. Of course, the decision whether or not to protect a player has as much to do with roster flexibility and his expected ability to stick on a big league roster for a full season as it does the player’s overall prospect value.
We’ll keep tabs on the day’s 40-man additions here, and you can also check Baseball America’s running updates, which includes breakdowns of the players added.
- The Rays have yet to announce their full list of roster moves, but Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper tweets that second baseman Ryan Brett will be added to the 40-man.
- Following their trade with the Dodgers, the Rays announced that they have added Brett (as Cooper tweeted), right-hander Matt Andriese, left-hander Grayson Garvin, outfielder Mikie Mahtook and catcher Justin O’Conner to the 40-man roster.
- The Dodgers announced that lefty Adam Liberatore, acquired in the trade with the Rays, has been added to the 40-man roster.
- The Astros have made one final 40-man roster move, announcing the addition of right-hander Michael Feliz. Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper was among those to express surprise that Feliz had not previously been added to the roster, with some executives telling him they’d be shocked if Feliz wasn’t the No. 1 pick in the Rule 5 Draft (Twitter link).
- The Rangers announced that they’ve added righties Luke Jackson and Jerad Eickhoff, infielder Hanser Alberto and catcher Jorge Alfaro to the 40-man roster.
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1:31pm: GM Alex Anthopoulos says that, while a deal is not a fait accompli, he “wouldn’t be surprised if [a trade] were to occur,” as Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reports on Twitter.
11:05am: Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro expressed interest in being dealt after the club inked free agent Russell Martin, according to a report from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. While the club informed him that it believes he’ll receive plenty of time in a reserve and DH capacity, Heyman writes that Navarro prefers an everyday catching role.
Three teams have shown interest already in the 30-year-old Navarro, who has been a solid producer over each of the last two years. His relatively meager $5MM salary in 2015 would make him interesting to plenty of clubs, and the catching market is lacking in supply.
Navarro’s concerns are not unfounded, it should be noted. It took some time for him to work his way back into a starter’s role, which he last held in 2009 with the Rays, and he no doubt hopes to set himself up for another run at free agency after this year.
The Blue Jays are pursuing veteran outfielder Torii Hunter, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link). Toronto is “not especially confident” that it will bring back Melky Cabrera, says Rosenthal, and apparently sees Hunter as an alternative solution.
Of course, there are a number of teams said to have interest in Hunter, who has drawn strong demand in the early going. As of ten days ago, Hunter was said to have interest from as many as ten clubs. His most recent club, the Tigers, is not one of those, though the AL Central rival Royals and Twins are reportedly being aggressive in their pursuit.
Other clubs that could make sense for Cabrera, says Heyman, include the Mariners and Orioles. The Royals have been mentioned elsewhere as an outside possibility. And, of course, the Blue Jays still have interest in bringing him back.
We have not heard much in the way of rumors regarding Cabrera, a 30-year-old switch-hitter coming off of a strong .301/.351/.458 campaign. Though he certainly comes with his downsides, Cabrera is a valuable asset and one of the best position players available this year, as MLBTR’s Steve Adams explained in detail in his recent profile. Adams predicts a five-year, $66.25MM pact.
It is worth bearing in mind, of course, that a team signing Cabrera will be required to sacrifice a draft pick as compensation. Holding a protected first-round choice, that would be much easier to stomach for Chicago.
There’s already been some Pablo Sandoval chatter today, with the Red Sox reportedly making an offer and agent Gustavo Vasquez set to chat with the Giants via phone tonight. Vasquez and Sandoval are wrapping up a visit to Boston today, and there’s plenty more on the Kung Fu Panda…
- The Blue Jays met with Sandoval’s camp at last week’s GM Meetings, writes Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi. While the meeting is said to have gone well, no offer has been made at this point.
- However, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports (via Twitter) that while there’s been no offer to this point, within the next 24 hours, the Blue Jays are indeed expected to make a formal offer to Sandoval. That report adds a third seemingly serious club to the mix. Of course, it’s worth remembering that the Jays do have a team policy against contracts of more than five years, and Sandoval is said to be seeking a six-year deal north of $100MM.
- Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com heard from a source that emphatically denied a rumor out of San Francisco that said the Giants were “out” on Sandoval at this point. The Giants are still “very much” in play for Sandoval, McAdam reports, though he does note that it’s unclear how lengthy of a contract the team is willing to issue.
- Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle shoots down another portion of the apparently erroneous report to which McAdam referred, noting that Sandoval never asked for a seven-year deal from the Giants, who are still definitely in the mix (Twitter link).
- ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets that even if the Giants don’t end up securing Sandoval, they’ll be able to walk away from the situation knowing they made a very strong, very legitimate effort.
- WEEI.com’s Alex Speier examines why it is the Red Sox prefer Sandoval to Hanley Ramirez, despite the fact that Sandoval is seeking a $100MM+ contract and comes with a significantly lesser offensive track record. Speier lists age, defense, durability and also makeup, which he notes is a concern for the Sox regarding Hanley. While Sandoval’s age and defense are larger factors, his excellent clubhouse reputation is an asset as well.
- The Red Sox and Giants remain the main players, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, but the Padres, White Sox and Blue Jays are all still in the mix. Heyman notes that while the Marlins have been a speculative fit in recent months, there’s been no contact from Miami at this point.
The Red Sox have claimed Juan Francisco off waivers from the Blue Jays, Boston announced today. Francisco, 27, had been noted as a non-tender candidate by MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk, and obviously was headed in that direction before the move by the Jays to expose him to the wire.
Francisco is projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to take home a $2.2MM payday through arbitration. Boston still has time to determine whether it will go down that path, of course, but obviously his power left-handed bat holds enough appeal that the team decided to open the possibility.
Last year, Francisco posted a fairly typical .220/.291/.456 slash over 320 plate appearances for the Jays, swatting 16 home runs in the process. That is rare power in this day and age, especially for a player who is capable of playing third base. But Francisco’s strikeout issues — he was second-worst in the league, 300 PA minimum — have shown no signs of abating. And his defense at the hot corner has generally drawn substandard reviews.
The timing of the move is somewhat interesting, of course, given that Boston is said to be hotly pursuing free agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who also hits from the left (and right) side. But the two players profile quite differently, needless to say, and Francisco looks more like a platoon or bench option — particularly given his extremely poor splits against lefties — if the team is unable to consummate a deal with the high-dollar Sandoval.